Thursday, April 28, 2011

She's Off to See the Wizard

Finally, after months of worrying if I would mess it up, I got the courage to make Harper's Dorothy costume for her class play. So far, I haven't worried that much about messing up my sewing projects-- the only consequence would be that the items wouldn't be worn out of the house...and at least I will have gotten more sewing practice! But this-- if I messed this up, the entire audience would wonder where I found such a pitiful costume. Plus I want Harper to look just perfect, of course!  I started out with a pattern, but after an hour or so, I tossed it. I'm coming to realize that patterns overwhelm me. They stress me out. They make me confused. So I buried it in the bottom drawer of my sewing table and just winged it by getting lots of dresses out of her closet and taking a stab at how I wanted it to turn out. And I must say that I didn't do too badly-- at least the mistakes are in areas that can be hidden!

She's off to see the wizard!

Click your heels together 3 times and
repeat after me...

Maisy the chihuahua as Toto

Toto, I mean Maisy, trying to escape!

Never a more beautiful Dorothy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bunnies for my Honeys

Spring sunshine has finally found its way to Seattle, and just in time for Easter!  Gareth, the kids (aka my "honeys") and I have been enjoying some outdoor time together. Last weekend we visited Jack Block Park here in West Seattle, and we attempted to fly a kite at Alki Beach. "Attempted" is the key word!

This year for Easter, I really wanted to make my girls' Easter dresses, but then I realized that their dresses from last year still fit... so I decided to make all of the kids Easter bunnies instead!  I had loads of minky scraps from my mom, and I loved this vintage-inspired Easter bunny tutorial from sew4home, which you can find here: Bunny Tutorial. I think the kids will love how they turned out. I can't wait to see their faces on Easter morning when they see their baskets... however, the Easter Bunny will not be getting credit for these little creations. Mommy spent hours making them, so the kids will definitely know that Mommy is the one who put them in their Easter baskets!

Georgia's bunny

Harper's bunny

Mason's bunny

Love the soft bunny feet!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Redwork Revival

Some nights I am torn: my mind and my hands want to create something, but my body is just too tired to cut fabric and sit hunched over my sewing machine.  Some nights I just want to hang out on the couch with my husband and watch our favorite tv shows... but make something at the same time!  The perfect solution to my quandary came as I was wandering around Stitches, a little fabric shop in Capitol Hill. I saw the cutest, most retro, most kitschy-fabulous embroidery patterns ever by a company called Sublime Stitching. As their website says, "this ain't your grandma's embroidery!" (Not that a grandma's embroidery would be a bad thing, in my opinion.) I bought a pattern to embroider on a kitchen towel, but before I delved into different colored floss and intricate patterns, I thought I would try something more simple first. Hence this pattern, found at the Pacific Fabric Outlet Store just over the bridge:

For one thing, I totally agree with the statement. :)  And for another, I was curious about what "redwork" was. I found this explantion on the website

"Redwork became popular in the late 1800's because of a colorfast thread made in Turkey, from a secret recipe. Up until then, colored threads did not hold their color in the wash and therefore, could not be used successfully to adorn everyday items like bedspreads or dish towels. The simplicity of redwork designs, and the fact that they were embroidered with very simple stitches on inexpensive muslins, meant that nearly everyone could have decorated linens. Children often learned how to embroider on 'Penny Squares', little designs printed on muslin and sold at the general stores for a penny. Redwork quilts were mostly 'summer weight' linens, meaning they had no batting. The Redwork squares were usually stitched together without sashing, and either quilted to a backing with a feather stitch or simply tied with string or yarn."

Very cool! Plus, I love how the whole pattern is supposed to be done in red floss. No switching out colors or deciding what color would look best where. I could handle this! I gathered my supplies... an embroidery hoop to hold the fabric taut; a needle with an eye that was big enough to easily thread the floss so I wouldn't get totally frustrated; a pair of little scissors for trimming loose ends, and that was it! It came with all the floss I needed. And it only took me a weekend to complete it--it's nice to work on an "instant satisfaction" piece once in a while!

The pattern was stamped on the fabric in a blue ink that was to be stitched over, and it completely came out when I was done by soaking the fabric in cold water for about 5 minutes.  Next step: hand sew the completed project onto a throw pillow that will sit on my lovely leopard-print couch!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Hills Are Alive!

My favorite movie of all time is "The Sound of Music."

You don't even want to know how many times I've seen that movie. I still love it as much now as I did as a little kid-- I still think Julie Andrews is the best singer in the world, the song "Edelweiss" still makes me cry, and Captain Von Trapp is still the most handsome movie character ever. So when I see fabric that reminds me of something Maria would wear, how can I pass it up?  This floral voile is SO "Sound of Music":

Surely Maria Von Trapp would have worn a skirt or dress made from this material!

I decided to make a bubble skirt for myself. I love the poofy, gathered look of a bubble skirt, and it is something different than the plethera of straight or a-line skirts hanging in my closet.  For me, comfort is key, so I cut the bottom band off a pilled t-shirt and used it for a fold over waistband.

Since the fabric is pretty thin and I'd prefer to not have a Princess-Diana-see-through-skirt moment, I used two layers of fabric for the skirt and gathered the top of both layers. I then attached them to the band.  To make the bubbled bottom, I simply trimmed the underskirt shorter than the top layer, gathered the bottom hem of the top layer, and folded the top layer under and sewed it to the underskirt.  And voila-- a Sound of Music bubble skirt!  Bet there has never been one of those in existence before!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gifts From My Grandmothers

My grandmothers were both born in the month of April. And they both died in the month of April. They both lived to be 79 years old. So naturally, April is a month in which I remember my grandmas-- how much I miss them, how much I love them (notice the present tense-- people die, but our love for them doesn't), and how much they've given me.

My mom's mom was named Ernestine. She was an only child, and full of spunk. I called her Grandma Basting.

My dad's mom was named Melanie. She was full of spunk too. She is on the left, and her sister, Leonore, is on the right. Their mom, Sophie, is in the middle. I called her Grandma Becker.

They were both such strong women. Both opinionated, both determined, both confident. They were my friends and my cheerleaders as well as my grandmas. I know now, because of who I attempt to be, that I want to be like them.

I want to sew like Grandma Basting. I want my kids to feel the love from what I sew for them like I still feel the love from my Grandma in the quilts she made for me. I want my house to smell like big breakfasts on Saturday mornings, and like apple pie on Saturday evenings. I want to take care of my parents one day as well as she took care of hers. I want to be a hard worker and have a beautiful garden and laugh as often and as heartily as she laughed.

I want to hug like Grandma Becker. Oh, to feel one of her long, strong hugs again! I want to wear fuschia lipstick and her big fur coat (sorry, PETA) and tell funny stories as well as she told stories about her city life and her farm life. I want to represent my German heritage as well as she did, through her words and her cooking. I want to watch beauty pageants and have the guts to say what I really think and to laugh as often and as heartily as she laughed.

I want Gareth to know that I love him as much as my grandmas loved their husbands.

Grandma and Grandpa Becker, 1941

I want my kids to know that I love them as much as my grandmas loved their kids.

And I hope to one day experience the blessing of grandchildren, and to love them and teach them, and to give them as much as my grandmas gave me.